For a nation that experiences such unpredictable weather, it might seem strange that UK motorists buy a lot of open-top cars. However, while there are plenty of two-seat roadsters to choose from, the choice of small premium four-seat open-tops like the BMW 2 Series Convertible is relatively small. Its main rivals are the luxurious Audi A3 Cabriolet, the Vauxhall Cascada and the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet.
The 2 Series Convertible is available with a selection of petrol and diesel engines. The 218d is an efficient, tax-friendly company car. It’s the most economical version and attracts a low company car tax bill, but still produces decent performance. The slightly punchier 220d is more suitable for private buyers. It offers better performance but with hardly any reduction in fuel economy. However, it’s not available in SE, our favourite trim, so reluctantly, we recommend the 218d for private buyers, too.
There are four trim levels, called SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport. The most appealing ones are at opposite ends of the range. Entry-level SE trim is great value for money, while M Sport costs more but brings real gains including suspension changes, bigger wheels and plusher upholstery.
The super-sporty M235i sits outside the normal 2 Series Convertible range. It’s blazingly fast but its high price places it uncomfortably close to cars such as the two-seat Porsche Boxster, which is even better to drive.
Overall, while the BMW is dynamically superior to rivals such as VW’s Beetle Cabriolet, the Audi A3 pips it to the top of the class. It has a slightly plusher cabin, rides and handles almost as well, and is roomier in the back.